You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2009.

UK radio amateurs are planning a project that will take space science into the classroom, with a project called FunCube. It is an educational project with the goal of enthusing and educating youngsters about radio, space, physics and electronics, by constructing and launching a small satellite, based on the CubeSat standard… (more)


As the companies that create anti-malware and virus products develop solutions to combat the malware scourge, so the internet bandits that create them get one better. This one-upmanship is a vicious circle… (more)

Instant messaging (IM), has changed the communications landscape dramatically over the past decade.  Since the evolution of IM as we knew it in the mid 1990s, this social communication tool has grown phenomenally, and is now being incorporated into the day-to-day business operations of many enterprises… (more)

Features editor Hans van de Groenendaal attended the Southern Africa Telecommunications (SATNAC) 2009 held in Swaziland from 31 August to 4 September. He highlights some of the presentations and discussions… (more)

On 11 September 2009 the IEEE ratified the IEEE 802.11n 2009 amendment, defining mechanisms that provide significantly improved data rates and ranges for wireless local area networks (WLANs)… (more)

Shared modules can reduce the amount of resources used by multiple applications in embedded systems. The author explains how to identify, place and access shared modules to maximise limited embedded resources… (more)

Small, fast and cheap PLC solutions usually offer few engineering options and often do not provide convenient visualisation. In contrast, distributed control systems integrate a host of components such as controls, engineering tools, human machine interfaces and numerous peripheral devices and tools (more)

How can manufacturers ensure process control and still achieve speed of throughput in the electronics industry?  Thermal profiling, as an element of process control, provides many solutions… (more)

There is a new buzzword in the telecoms dictionary –”neutrality”– defined by Encarta UK as the state of not taking sides. This could well describe the communications industry’s attitude to spectrum… (more)

Nearly a decade ago, the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) began to actively engage in the development of the information communications technology and electronics sector (ICT&E). The broad objectives were to grow the ICT&E industry to increase employment, broaden participation, encourage exports and promote small business development in this important sector… (more)

At the annual general meeting of the Electrical Engineering and Allied Industries Association (EEAIA) recently, the invited speaker was Martin Jankelowitz of Ginsburg Asset Consulting. Martin, who insists he is not an economist, gave a fascinating talk on the state of the world economy. In 2008, for example, US equities had their second worst year since 1825. Banks have been extremely hard hit by the dubious banking practices of recent years – US banks have declined to the extent that the three biggest banks in the world by market capitalisation now are Chinese banks! Of the 20 biggest, only three are American… (more)

The standard 3-pin plug used in South Africa has remained largely unchanged for almost a century, a legacy of the British influence. It is far larger than necessary for the job it does. As long ago as 1950, a new worldwide standard for plugs and sockets was envisaged that would be safe, occupy less space and use materials more efficiently. However, the move to standardise plugs and sockets worldwide met with obstacles and a final document was only published in 1986. To date, only South Africa and Brazil have adopted this new standard (SANS 164-2), even though it remains as a global benchmark… (more)

Lighting management now has the capability to deliver much higher levels of control. However, it’s vitally important that the user interface of these systems remains as simple as possible. Failing to achieve that will discourage their use.Inevitably this presents a conundrum – with a desire on one hand to use the full power of the system to achieve maximum energy savings and the reality that, at the end of the day, the human factor needs to be taken into account. Ultimately, a balance must be achieved… (more)

In this section, the various ways of describing, measuring and quantifying colour and its attributes, as applied to light sources, will be explained. All of these topics have a bearing on lighting scheme design particularly where more than one light source is used… (more)

A Brazilian motor manufacturer is finding ways to build motors that make them inherently more energy efficient. With the growing demand for energy in a burgeoning global population, it may not be possible to keep up with demand. However, an alternative is to decrease the actual energy required in specific industrial and mining applications, by increasing the energy efficiency of electric motors… (more)

An apparently simple operation to polish a work piece is in fact highly complex. A skilled person with a long experience in this process can do it very well and most of the handling is based on “feeling.” With newly-developed software tools, robots can learn the “feeling” required for high-quality polishing. Their flexibility and constant optimal performance make robots an irreplaceable tool for the computer, communication and consumer electronics (3C) industry… (more)

The long term continued safety of an intrinsically safe system depends on adequate inspection and maintenance. The relevant IEC standard is
IEC 60079-17, which deals comprehensively with all methods of protection. Any work on a hazardous plant needs to take into account overall plant safety. Consequently it is necessary to comply with the safety practices of the particular installation (for example work permits), even though the risk of ignition from the intrinsically safe circuits is minimal, and gas clearance certificates are not necessary… (more)

Free and open access to data generally falls under the ambit of a national spatial data infrastructure (SDI) initiative. Governments all over the world are realising the value of national spatial data infrastructures and are generally making major investments to establish them. However, most current literature points to the fact that the implementation of formal NSDI in Africa is extremely poor… (more)

Crime analysis is a law enforcement function that involves systematic analysis for identifying and analysing patterns and trends in crime and disorder. Information on patterns can help law enforcement agencies deploy resources in a more effective manner, and assist detectives in identifying and apprehending suspects. Crime analysis also plays a role in devising solutions to crime problems, and formulating crime prevention strategies… (more)

Senior management at De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM) decided in 2006 that the survey and geotechnical monitoring systems at Kimberley Mine’s “Big Hole” needed to be augmented by a GPS-based deformation monitoring network. Kimberley Mine, also known as the “Big Hole” said to be the largest hand-dug excavation in the world, was mined between 1871 and 1914… (more)

The CSIR’s Satellite Application Centre (CSIR SAC) was approached by Mozambique’s Centro Nacional de Cartografia e Teledeteção (CENACARTA) to produce imagery suited for cadastral mapping to support the Land Component of the MCA-Mozambique Land Tenure Services project, under the National Directorate of Land and Forestry (DNTF). Following previous work done for the centre by CSIR SAC, CENACARTA was eager to extend the current coverage of satellite imagery over the country… (more)

Unlike traditional geospatial information systems that rely only on an orthogonal, or top-down view of an area, Pictometry captures images obliquely, i.e. from an angle, and creates a more natural three-dimensional view so that users can see land features and structures clearly and in their entirety. With only minutes of training, a new user can access detailed imagery of a region and learn to navigate quickly and easily between views of a map to images… (more)

Executing infrastructure projects – regardless of the lifecycle phase – has always brought with it significant challenges. This article outlines Bentley’s vision for an interoperability platform that is aimed at transcending the spectrum between the point-to-point and centralised-database approaches. The objective is to outline an approach to interoperability that provides the flexibility, scalability, transparency, and economy demanded by actual infrastructure projects… (more)

To quantify the impact of increased urbanisation on the peri-urban hydro-systems, it is necessary to design adapted models. Currently, most of the hydrological models, based on classical raster approach, do not take into account the urban artifacts and do not match complex geometries such as urban ones (heterogeneous objects, strong space’s partition, roads, pits, buildings etc.). In this article, we present our Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN) based model, that requires a Constrained Delaunay Triangulation preprocessing phase… (more)

Clint Marx from Land & Marine Surveys, a small survey company specialising in hydrographic and geophysical marine works and high density surveys, has put together a workable method for using RTK tides corrected from a locally measured undulation model – to be applied when published model or geodetic control is unavailable… (more)

Someone came along with a box of electronic tricks, called the Tellurometer, and measured the Isiolo base in about 20 minutes to a very comparable accuracy and similarly that at Malindi. The Isiolo base had suddenly become the last such line to be measured in catenary and a new era had dawned for the surveyor. The traverse from Malindi to Isiolo had been estimated to take between 2 and 2½ years to complete by traditional methods but with the Tellurometer it took just 28 days to cover the 402 miles in 26 traverse legs… (more)

It is now more than 50 years since the survey world was startled and revolutionised by the invention of the Tellurometer by Trevor Lloyd Wadley. A new book ” Trevor Lloyd Wadley – Genius of the Tellurometer” provides a look at the character of the inventor and outlines the circumstances under which the invention was born… (more)

Many first attempts at virtualisation fail – that’s a cold hard fact. But, Herman van Heerden, managing director at Starship Systems, a local company which specialises in the supply, implementation and support of virtualisation technologies, says this has got more to do with lack of planning and experience than the software itself… (more)

All of us know someone that started their own business and ended up working at another firm. This is not a failure, it’s part of the learning process we go through as adults. If we fail, then what a great learning experience! Millions of words have been written about business, but in my mind they all come down to three concepts: people, product and profits… (more)

Companies rely on a UPS to deliver continuous power without any disruption to their business, a maintenance plan is a critical component in ensuring that a UPS minimises the risks of downtime and performs as expected. Implementing a preventive maintenance service plan for a UPS is much like completing routine repairs and inspections on a vehicle. Not only is completing scheduled maintenance recommended by every auto manufacturer, but the findings can help detect a wide range of ailments before they become serious issues. In the same way, preventive maintenance helps ensure the ongoing integrity of the UPS… (more)

Data center electrical efficiency is rarely planned or managed.  The unfortunate result is that most data centers waste substantial amounts of electricity. Today it is both possible and prudent to plan, measure, and improve data center efficiency.  In addition to reducing electrical consumption, efficiency improvements can gain users higher IT power densities and the ability to install more IT equipment in a given installation. This paper explains how data center efficiency can be measured, evaluated, and modeled, including a comparison of the benefits of periodic assessment vs. continuous monitoring… (more)

South Africa averages at least one arc flash incident with lost time injuries per month and at least one fatality every two months.  This statistic is based only on cases reported in the Highveld media and is not necessarily representative of the actual number of incidents which is believed to be greater. Standards South Africa is publishing the first standard which is dedicated to electrical arc flash safety and will soon follow with standards which aim to reduce the number of arc flash incidents and the effects of such incidents in the workplace… ( more)

Safe and reliable supply of electric power is aprerequisite for continuation and growth of prosperity in any country. As shown in the past there are circumstances which require a substantial adaptation of the power systems to new conditions. For example, changes in the political conditions in Europe at the end of the 1980s have resulted in a massive restructuring of the power systems in Central and Eastern Europe. In addition, the liberalization of the power industry, which started globally in the nineties of the last century, caused substantial changes to the power systems because of new reference conditions, in particular by intensifying electric power trading… (more)

In view of Eskom’s current network expansion at 765 kV, it was necessary to address occupational exposure of substation workers to electric fields, particularly in 765 kV substations with busbar height of 12 m. This paper reports on the assessment of 50 Hz electric field levels that substation workers may be exposed to in 765 kV open air substation.It was found that at 12 m busbar height, at 800 kV line voltage, the maximum calculated electric field, 21,9 kV/m, exceeds the International Commission for Non-ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) reference level (20 kV/m) at two locations covering a small area… ( more)

Apollo is the inverter end of the Cahora Bassa HVDC scheme. It is situated in RSA while the rectifier is at the Songo Station 1414 km to the North in Mozambique. The present rating of the HVDC link is 1920 MW at ±533 kV. In 2006 Eskom placed a contract with ABB for the replacement of eight six-pulse converters and two AC filters, while retaining the old transformers and the DC yard equipment including smoothing reactors. A basic requirement was that renewed equipment should not become obsolete as the Cahora Bassa HVDC link has the potential to be uprated to 3960 MW using the present full current rating of the line and extending the voltage to ± 600 kV DC… (more)

A solution to improve wind power reliability is interconnected wind power.  In other words, by linking multiple wind farms together it is possible to improve substantially the overall performance of the interconnected system (i.e. array) when compared to that of any individual wind farm. The idea is that, while wind speed could be calm at a given location, it will be noncalm somewhere else in the aggregate array… (more)

Over the last 10 years the electricity reserve margin in South Africa, has been steadily declining, due to increasing demand for power and limited new generation capacity being commissioned. In 2006, regional load shedding was required due to network inadequacies and insufficient regional generation resources. In early 2007, the first incident of national load shedding occurred due to the inability to supply demand with the operational generation capacity… (more)

Dr.Willie-de-BeerADAM , the Approach to Distribution Asset  Management, aims to identify and develop strategies to address maintenance, refurbishment and funding gaps, and also provides EDI Holdings with a plan that covers every aspect of distribution asset management.
Mike Rycroft, editor of Energize, interviews Dr. Willie de Beer, CEO of EDI Holdings on the status of ADAM… (more)

As you know, my principal aim since shuffling off this mortal coil all those years ago is to prevent my friends, and even executives, from amassing chains of guilt and regrets, of keys, padlocks, cash-boxes and heavy purses by showing them the error of their ways. So I recently felt obliged to visit, in the dead of night, a well-known senior executive in the industry and take him to see the three customary ghosts. Not the ghosts of christmas, of course, but it was cold and dark nevertheless… (more)

Doug_KuniIf there are not sufficient megawatts under construction, the problem will not go away – irrespective of how much we talk. We can mitigate the extent to which we feel the pain, by means of the PCP (Power Conservation Program, where large users must cut 10% or face penalties), and energy efficiency measures such solar heaters, light bulbs etc. But that will not make the problem go away. And economic growth will be proportional to the new megawatts coming on stream. So why aren’t there sufficient megawatts under construction?… (more)

by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers

What do Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) deputy minister Enoch Godongwana, Eskom chairman Bobby Godsell, Eskom Generation COO Brian Dames and Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger all have in common? Well, they are all responsible for or work for an Eskom in serious disarray. And they are certainly not fools. But these are not the common factor I allude to… (more)

Let’s look back in history and see who the people were, whose work Marconi used to develop his wireless communication system. The library at the Villa Griffone in Bologna, Italy where Marconi grew up, housed the lectures of the brilliant English chemist Michael Faraday. Faraday made some of the most significant discoveries about the relationship between electricity and magnetism and had invented the first, tiny, electrical generator… (more)

There is no one-stop-shop when it comes to IT in business and it takes freedom to be creative. The renaissance might be over, but the culture around the internet and computers has created a logical outlet for creative types and sharing is at the heart of all this. From content creation to coding, collaborating to exchanging thoughts on problem solving – it’s all out there… (more)

Many facilities are confronted with conflicting priorities: improve building management efficiency, safety and security, yet reduce operating expenses and resource allocation. It is possible to achieve reduced operating expenses and see an improvement in management efficiency, safety and security despite greater pressure facing the building management industry than ever before… (more)

The author discusses explosion protection relating to instruments installed in hazardous locations. Explosion protection is a complex subject but is rarely covered in technical syllabi. Members of the plant staff therefore have to rely on knowledge gained from published literature and some scattered courses… (more)

The area classification for hazardous locations takes into consideration the probability of occurrence of an explosive atmosphere due to the presence of dust, fibres, gas, vapour or mist. It however does not consider the magnitude of damage to equipment, personnel and the environment i.e. consequences… (more)

Frost & Sullivan’s technical and market analysis team discusses a new development aimed at organic solar cells that can be produced as easily and inexpensively as thin films, for possible electricity generation. Surging oil prices and increasing environmental awareness are the two main factors increasing the demand for photovoltaic solar cells capable of converting incident solar radiation into electricity… (more)

This year has already seen a huge increase in the choice of electronic components that can be printed or are compatible with printing in that they are thin, flexible and can support further printed circuitry on top. There have even been new types of components appearing that will greatly enhance the functionality of printed circuits… (more)

The consumer-driven demand for electronic devices to become smaller, lighter and more functional has been driving electronic components into ever smaller packages. The early development of integrated circuits focused on increasing the number of transistors per package, leading to very large scale integration (VLSI) devices… (more)

The complexity of modern information systems requires more extensive and advanced modelling technologies. Developers and analysts find it increasingly difficult to ensure that their models are complete, and they find it to be nearly impossible to comprehend all the consequences of assertions made in their models… (more)

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